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French singing star Enrico Macias is beloved in Israel as much for the ongoing support he's given the Israel Defence Forces as for his musical gifts. The Algerian-born Jewish crooner's performances for the IDF span some four decades, which the include the Six Day War and the Yom Kippur War; in the latter he joined the forces that crossed the Suez Canal. Scheduled to play Tel Aviv's Mann Auditorium this Monday and Tuesday, Macias will receive a Citation of Gratitude from The Ministry of Defense and an honorary membership in the Union of the Israeli Artists.
Born in 1938, Macias's father was a violinist in the then famous Cheikh Raymond Leyris orchestra. Leyris was also an Algerian Jew, and as a master of the local Maalouf strain of Arab-Andalusian music, he pioneered music that combined his Jewish and Arabic roots. At 15, Macias himself began to play guitar with Leyris. After Leyris was murdered by Muslim extremists in 1961, Macias fled Algeria with much of the Jewish community. While he and his wife Suzy, Leyris's daughter, were sailing to Paris for refuge, he wrote "Adieu Mon Pays," which later became his first major hit.
His worldwide career included a performance for Egyptian president Anwar el-Sadat, after whose assissination he composed the song "Un berger vient de tomber" (A shepherd has fallen).
Macias will perform his numerous hits at the Tel Aviv shows, as well as songs from Oranges Ameres, his 2003 album which reached the 100,000 sales mark. Following this success, Macias released Live l'Olympia, 2003, a double live album featuring hits from his entire career.
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